Report: Springer reaches agreement with Toronto

January 20th, 2021

No other free agent for 2020-21 can match the October pedigree of , whose 19 career postseason home runs are tied for the fourth most in history. That included four dingers in the '20 postseason for Springer, who was one of the few Astros who hovered near his expected level of play, based on years past, during the regular season (140 OPS+, 14 homers in 222 plate appearances). Now, the lifelong Astro is set to test the free-agent market for the first time as one of the premier offensive players available.

Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 31-year-old outfielder, who did not accept the Astros' $18.9 million qualifying offer and will be tied to Draft-pick compensation if he signs with a team other than Houston.

Report: Blue Jays, Springer agree to six-year, $150 million deal

Jan. 19: A two-horse derby between the Blue Jays and Mets for Springer has seemingly found a resolution. MLB Network insiders Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal report that Toronto has reached an agreement with Springer on a six-year, $150 million deal. ESPN's Jeff Passan was first to report that a deal was in place.

Springer joins a young and hungry Blue Jays club looking to compete with the Rays and Yankees in the competitive American League East. The Mets reportedly made a strong push for Springer, a Connecticut native, but their blockbuster trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco made it harder for them to incorporate Springer's $25 million average annual value while remaining comfortably below the $210 million competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold. The Blue Jays already featured a solid outfield corps with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernández and Randal Grichuk before adding a bona fide star in Springer.

Morosi: Springer decision could come this week

Jan. 18: Springer's free agency could reach a conclusion this week, multiple industry sources told's Jon Paul Morosi.

The Mets and Blue Jays have been the two leading clubs in the Springer race throughout this offseason, and they remain the frontrunners, Morosi notes.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, Springer has received nine-figure offers from both teams.

From the Toronto side, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith and Shi Davidi report that the Blue Jays are "making a push" for Springer, with the expectation that the two sides would re-connect in the coming days or "may have already done so."

"Springer has been reported to prefer the Mets because of their proximity to his home state of Connecticut," Nicholson-Smith and Davidi write, "but his interest in the Blue Jays is believed to be genuine, with Toronto posing little or no obstacle."

Will Blue Jays or Mets step up for Springer?

Jan. 17: Right now it appears the Blue Jays or the Mets might be the two clubs willing to spend what it takes to land Springer, perhaps the top free-agent position player available with DJ LeMahieu reportedly off the board and J.T. Realmuto looking likely to re-sign with the Phillies.

The question, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal lays out in his Sunday column for The Athletic (subscription required), is how far Toronto or New York are willing to go. The Blue Jays have missed out on many of their reported targets this winter, most recently LeMahieu and Francisco Lindor via trade, but Rosenthal speculates that Toronto remains patient knowing that one of the major free agents (perhaps Springer?) will eventually need an open suitor.

Meanwhile, the Mets have stated they don't want to exceed the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold, and signing Springer could seriously threaten that desire. Rosenthal writes that New York could try to pitch the star outfielder a stretched contract similar to the six-year, $90 million deal the Yankees reportedly agreed to with LeMahieu, in order to steer clear of a tax hit. Or, the Mets could trade away some high-salary players like Jeurys Familia or Steven Matz.

As far as who has the edge, Rosenthal notes it could be the Blue Jays. Toronto has far more room to breathe under that CBT threshold, and sources confirmed to Rosenthal an original report by SNY's Jim Duquette that the Blue Jays have already extended a five-year offer upwards of $100 million to Springer's camp -- showing they would be willing to shell out big money for the former Astros star.

What does LeMahieu's deal mean for Springer?

Jan. 15: With DJ LeMahieu reportedly nearing a deal to rejoin the Yankees for six years and $90 million, the first top-tier free agent is coming off the market. What does that mean for Springer, who's also in the top trio of position players along with LeMahieu and J.T. Realmuto?

For one thing, it could make Toronto a more likely destination. The Blue Jays were one of the main teams linked to LeMahieu, and they want to make a big move this offseason. Since they'll have to move away from LeMahieu now, that big move could be for Springer, who remains a strong fit for Toronto's lineup. According to's Jon Paul Morosi, the Jays remain in contact with Springer as well as Realmuto and Trevor Bauer.

The Mets, meanwhile, already made a big move by trading for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. They've also made multiple free-agent signings already and are now reported to be in talks to sign former Indians closer Brad Hand. But they can't be counted out of the Springer race, especially with LeMahieu no longer an option.

Report: Mets still have 'good chance' at landing Springer

Jan. 14: Even after the blockbuster trade acquisition of star shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland, the Mets still have "a good chance" to sign free agent outfielder George Springer, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said in a WFAN radio interview Thursday.

"I think if your competition is the Blue Jays, and you're talking about George Springer, who went to UConn, is from close to the area -- and obviously they've got [new owner] Steve Cohen in their corner -- you've got to say the Mets have a good shot at Springer," Heyman said.

Heyman also said he thinks the Mets will sign Lindor to an extension this offseason.

"I would be surprised if the Mets aren't able to lock him up," Heyman said. "It's a much better deal if they're able to lock him up, and I think they're going to be able to do that."

Will DH uncertainty impact Mets’ Springer pursuit?

Jan. 13: In an appearance on the “Big Time Baseball” podcast this week, Mets president Sandy Alderson told MLB Network insider Jon Heyman that the team is “still engaged, in a loose sense, with Springer.”

However, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman thinks the club is unlikely to sign the free-agent center fielder unless it finds out the National League will have the designated hitter in 2021.

With the universal DH in 2020, the Mets were able to start both Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith every day. Without it, Smith will need to play left field to keep both in the lineup. Signing Springer would bump Brandon Nimmo to left, removing the option of starting Smith there.

On the other hand, Alderson has noted that he isn’t comfortable with Smith playing left field regularly, so it's possible the Mets will have a logjam to deal with at first base regardless of what they do in center field. The DH could clear that up, but an agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association is required to institute the rule in the Senior Circuit for 2021.

Alderson: Mets 'still engaged' in Springer discussions

Jan. 12: After the Mets landed a pair of big acquisitions in Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, no one is shutting the door on New York going one step further by signing Springer -- including the club’s top decision maker.

In an appearance on the “Big Time Baseball” podcast, Mets president Sandy Alderson told MLB Network insider Jon Heyman that his front office might begin to build from the bench outwards, recognizing that New York still needs to add role players to fill out its 26-man roster. But when asked specifically about the Mets’ ties to Springer, Alderson acknowledged that the Amazins have not shut the door on that possibility yet -- and vice versa.

“When you look at starters and guys we’d like to put in the outfield, we only have two,” said Alderson, likely referring to Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. “And we need three -- and probably four or five. We definitely have some work to do. Given the level of excitement, enthusiasm surrounding the Mets, I don't think we've been crossed off his list ... I would say that we're still engaged, in a loose sense, with Springer.”

Alderson said the Mets are still determining how close they want to go in regard to the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold of $210 million -- a figure that looms closer to the franchise after adding the salaries of Lindor and Carrasco to the payroll this week. Their comfortability with flirting with that line could influence how aggressively they chase the remaining top-tier free agents like Springer, Trevor Bauer and DJ LeMahieu.

“We haven’t determined to this point whether we’re going to be below or under it,” said Alderson, “but just because we’re a big-market club doesn’t mean we don’t have to make choices. It’s as important to have discipline for the big-market club as it is for the small-market club -- in fact it’s more so. The big-market club has more options that the small-market club doesn’t even consider, because they’re just not possible.”

Could Springer push these clubs over the edge?

Jan. 12: While there has been no shortage of rumors linking Springer to both the Mets and Blue Jays this offseason,'s Thomas Harrigan makes the case that the three-time All-Star could also make a World Series-caliber impact for either the White Sox or Braves.

The White Sox have already made it clear that they intend to make a run in 2021 with a couple big moves this offseason. After acquiring Lance Lynn from the Rangers in December, Chicago has agreed to a three-year deal with top free-agent reliever Liam Hendriks, according to a source. Adding Springer to the outfield on the South Side could be the last piece the White Sox need to separate themselves from the Twins in the American League Central -- and perhaps the rest of the AL, in general.

As for the Braves, they are still looking to replace Marcell Ozuna in the middle of their order. Ozuna, who led the National League with 18 home runs last season, remains a free agent, while Atlanta is seemingly waiting to see if the NL once again implements the designated hitter rule for 2021 before deciding to make a run at re-signing him. Signing Springer would not only offset the loss of Ozuna offensively -- without any of the defensive concerns -- but it would once again give the Braves one of the most formidable lineups in the NL with Springer sliding in alongside Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies and reigning NL Most Valuable Player Freddie Freeman.

How much is Springer looking for in a contract?

Jan. 9: What will it take to land Springer this offseason? According to SNY's Andy Martino, around $175 million.

Martino adds that he's hearing the Blue Jays' offer on the table for Springer is below $150 million, and goes on to say that while Springer would be nice for the Mets to add after the blockbuster move they made to acquire Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, "the Mets can't spend like drunken sailors," borrowing a line from new owner Steve Cohen earlier this offseason. "I would be stunned if the Mets gave him [$175 million]," Martino said.

Another point Martino brings up is that Springer may have to move to right field as his primary position within a couple of seasons, which would create a dilemma for New York with current right fielder Michael Conforto.

What could Mets’ blockbuster mean for Springer pursuit?

Jan. 7: Led by new owner Steve Cohen, the Mets have been one of the more aggressive teams this offseason, retaining starter Marcus Stroman with the $18.9 million qualifying offer and signing catcher James McCann (four years, $40 million) and reliever Trevor May (two years, $15.5 million) before pulling off Thursday’s blockbuster trade with the Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco.

There might be more to come. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that the team hasn't ruled out Springer, even with the acquisitions of Lindor and Carrasco.

The trade could add more than $30 million to New York’s 2021 payroll, and the team presumably will try to ink Lindor to an extension. The shortstop has one year of team control remaining before he can test free agency.

FanGraphs’ Roster Resource projects the Mets still have roughly $32 million to spend before hitting the $210 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold. Mets president Sandy Alderson indicated Thursday that the team isn't viewing the threshold as a hard cap.

"It’s a significant demarcation," Alderson said. "I wouldn’t say it’s a line that can’t be passed."

However, SNY's Andy Martino reports that a Springer acquisition would likely require the Mets to shed payroll in a trade.

The Mets are apparently considering other options for center field, meanwhile, as Mets blogger Mike Mayer reports that the team has been in contact recently with Jackie Bradley Jr. The 30-year-old ranks eighth overall with +49 Outs Above Average since 2017, and he had a 118 OPS+ -- his best mark since '16 -- last season. He's projected to be much less expensive than Springer.